Police to take over polling stations in Catalonia to thwart independence ballot

It is cracking down on organizers by threatening them with prosecution.

For this reason some are now sitting up and looking out for the next potential flare-point - Spain's Catalonia region where seperatists are pushing for independence.

"The bigger risk to the Euro is unlikely to come from Germany, but instead could come from Spain where the Catalan region is planning to hold an illegal referendum on independence on 1st October", says Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index.

But the US President became more ambiguous hinting the Catalans would not stand for their referendum vote to be blocked.

But, political tensions in Spain are building with campaigners intend to hand out more than one million ballot papers in Catalonia, Spain, to support an independence referendum that has already been prohibited by the country's constitutional court.

Meanwhile police visited the office of the mayor of Oliana, Miquel Sala, one of the over 700 mayors under investigation for pledging to cooperate with the referendum.

The Catalan regional government has accused central authorities of imposing an "undeclared state of emergency".

The Spanish Interior Ministry in Madrid said on Tuesday the order to note down the personal details of officials was given to police by the top state prosecutor in Catalonia.

Jose Manuel Maza said Carles Puigdemont could be charged with civil disobedience, abuse of office and misuse of public funds for pressing ahead with preparations for the October 1 referendum.

With five days to go until the October 1 vote, the clash between Catalonia's pro-separatist government and Madrid was increasingly being played out in the arena of logistics and worldwide opinion.

Madrid has also threatened fines against bureaucrats working on the ballot, including the region's election commission, which was dissolved last week.

These actions have provoked mass demonstrations and drawn accusations from Catalan leaders that the Madrid government was resorting to the repression of the Franco dictatorship.

Polls show that Catalans are sharply divided over whether they want independence, but a large majority would like a legal referendum to settle the matter.

"We will let the government and the people there work it out, and we will work with whatever government or entity that comes out of it", Nauert said.

By focusing on polling stations, prosecutors appear to have put in place a plan that targets all the logistics needed to stage the referendum, which has been deemed illegal by Madrid.

He said: "The Spanish President would say they are not going to have a vote but I think the people would be opposed to that".

  • Joey Payne